Attendees at this year’s production of MGP’s Oklahoma! will have a chance to see some Cleveland royalty when the crowned Miss Greater Cleveland (Miss America) takes the stage in this year's production, Oklahoma!
Meg Wittman, crowned last August, and who will compete this June for the Miss Ohio title, is playing the part of Laurey, the love interest of Curly McLain (played by Avon Lake's Jerry Popiel).
“The main thing I love about her is she doesn’t take flack from anyone,” Wittman said. “Her spunk is what drew me to her.”
Okalahoma!, which opens Feb. 8 at the Performing Arts Center at Avon Lake High School, is only one of several productions Wittman has been in recently, although MGP, the all volunteer production that supports the Avon Lake school district, is a new venture for the 23-year-old Cleveland Heights resident.
“I learned of MGP when performing in Legally Blonde at The Beck Center,” Wittman said.
Wittman became aware of Oklahoma! from the play's producer/director Ian Atwood.
“I met Ian at a theater party and he talked me up about the show,” she said. “Oklahoma! is one of my favorites. t’s so goofy and campy but it’s so fun. We’re doing these numbers in our gingham and jeans. It’s old-school musical theater. It was just a simpler time."
She said Many a New Day, a song her character sings in Oklahoma!, is one of her favorites from the Rodgers and Hammerstein play. A veteran of the theater, Wittman, an accomplished singer, recently played the part of Maria in The Sound of Music at TrueNorth in Sheffield Village. She’s also performed in Perfect Wedding, utilizing a Cockney accent she learned at Kent State University, where she earned a degree in Musical Theatre.
Her interest in performing developed early, after the Boston-born Wittman moved to Florida.
“I started in fifth-grade,” the naturally shy Wittman said. “I had a music teacher in Orlando who started a performing arts school. I thought I was amazing at the time, but looking back I wasn’t.”
By age 11, she landed her first lead role her love for performing continues.
Pageants and crowns
When Wittman competes for Miss Ohio/Miss America in Mansfield in June, it will provide her with an opportunity to participate in another activity she loves.
“I started entering pageants at 13 for something to do,” she said. “I was still very shy. Through pageants I’ve gained a lot of confidence and interview skills."
Previously, she held the title of Miss Cuyahoga County, also in the Miss America system. In August 2011, she was crowned Miss All American City. Being crowned Miss Greater Cleveland, however, was a coup.
“I got the title I always wanted, ‘Miss Greater Cleveland,’” she said. “I want to root for all of Cleveland.”
Wittman, 23, has only a few chances to compete, since women “age out” of the Miss America system at 24. Should she win the Miss Ohio title in June, she will have one last opportunity to compete in January 2014, at the Miss America pageant.
Pageants have also let her remain involved in volunteer work. She continues to be involved in Drive To Create, a non-profit she is heavily involved in. The organization provides creative and marketing assistance to charitable organizations in order to increase their societal impact.
“That’s another reason I like MGP,” Wittman said. “It’s all volunteer and it gives back to the community."
Following Oklahoma!, she may take a hiatus from the stage as she prepares for the Miss Ohio pageant.
“I’ll have to wait to see what presents itself,” she said. “I think (performing) is something I’ll always do, either professionally or something like community theater.”
By day, Wittman is an executive assistant at Key Bank, an employer she said is understanding of her outside-of-work activities.
“They understand I have this performing outside of work,” she said.
Oklahoma! runs Feb. 8, 9 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m and Feb. 10 at 2 p.m.
Presale tickets, good for any performance, are now on sale for only $10 at Rio Coffee Brewery, Hartsel's Automotive, online at www.ticketspigot.com, or from any cast member. Tickets purchased at the door are $15. For additional ticket information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.mightygoliath.com.
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